Tuesday, 9 December, 2014 - 14:53

Ursula Torres received the "Resilience" award for her talk at the NZ Ecological Society Conference 16-20 November 2014, Palmerston North. Her talk was titled "The realized climatic niche of freshwater invertebrates: Are they stable?" Ursula also was awarded first prize at the Lincoln Post Graduate Conference in the Bio-Protection Research Centre Session, 7-8th July 2014, Lincoln University.

Ursula gained her BSc and two MSc (Hons) in Ecology and Modelling at Paul Sabatier University (Toulouse, France).After her MSc she worked on a European project (CAFNET) where she studied the impact of coffee management on cavity nesting birds in the Western Ghats (India). She then joined the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and worked on biotic interactions in saproxylic beetles. At the Bio-protection Research Centre, Ursula's work will be under the supervision of Sue Worner and is funded by the Erasmus Mundus NESSIE Project. Her PhD will focus on modelling global distributions and risk of establishment of invasive freshwater invertebrates.

Tuesday, 9 December, 2014 - 14:29

Kevin Chase, our University of Canterbury PhD student, won the "Best student talk (presentation) on understanding invasive species" award at the New Zealand Ecological Society conference held at Massey University in mid-November.

Kevin's talk was titled "Allee Effects and the Establishment of Exotic Invasive Bark Beetles". He is supervised by Ecki Brockerhoff (Scion/B3), Dave Kelly (School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury), and Sandy Liebhold (US Forest Service). Kevin receives a scholarship from Scion via contributions to the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration.

Friday, 15 August, 2014 - 16:50


On May 28-29, the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration celebrated its tenth birthday by hosting a national biosecurity conference in Wellington with the theme “Ten years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.  Bringing key researchers and end-users together for this conference provided an opportunity to review B3’s progress and major achievements, highlight key issues and challenges, and strengthen the relationships that underpin the effectiveness of this collaboration.  

The primary aim of this conference was to recognise ten years of government-funded border biosecurity research (including B3’s forerunner “Improved Biosecurity”), with an emphasis on the critical importance of research to New Zealand’s biosecurity system. The conference highlighted some of the significant outcomes that have arisen from the B3 research collaboration.  Additionally, the conference emphasized student participation in the B3 programme, which has bolstered future capability requirements for border biosecurity. 


Tuesday, 29 July, 2014 - 14:24

In May 2010, a species of butterfly never before recorded in New Zealand was discovered in a home garden near the Port of Nelson. The arrival of great white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) immediately raised concern because of its potential threat to commercial and home brassica crops, and to forage brassica crops that are used to feed livestock for New Zealand’s dairy and meat industries.  In addition, New Zealand has 79 species of native brassicas, many of which are very rare, that are threatened by the arrival of great white butterfly.

Great white butterfly was initially found close to the port, thus it might have arrived on imported shipping containers. It was expected to spread quickly beyond Nelson, both because it has been invasive elsewhere in the world and because a close relative, the cabbage white butterfly, also spread quickly and widely throughout New Zealand when it first arrived.  Great white butterfly is a well-known pest in Asia and Europe, where it is widely distributed, and it has invaded South Africa and Chile.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) immediately set up a monitoring project to track the butterfly’s spread which...

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 - 11:59

In August 2013, B3 sponsored a visit by ‘luminary’ John Mumford, Professor of Natural Resource Management at Imperial College London, United Kingdom to continue B3’s association with the leading European biosecurity research project known as PRATIQUE (Pest Risk Assessment Techniques).

Professor Mumford’s research has covered many aspects of economic interest related to pest, food and biosecurity, including risk and economic analyses of exotic organisms, agricultural quarantine, invasive species and intentional releases/bioterrorism. He has also worked on risk analysis and economic analysis for novel technologies in pest control, such as the sterile insect technique and genetically modified insects.

During his visit to New Zealand, Professor Mumford participated in four events throughout the country. He says that these events highlighted that “a common issue facing biosecurity agencies everywhere is how to match uncertain management measures with uncertain pest challenges. It was good to see B3 stimulating interaction among the many...

Tuesday, 25 February, 2014 - 14:37

In June 2013, Landcare Research joined the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration, enabling B3 to provide an even more coordinated and integrated approach to terrestrial plant border biosecurity. The inclusion of Landcare Research in B3 means that all of the land-focused Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are now represented within the research collaboration. Landcare Research’s strengths in non-target risk assessment, molecular diagnosis of plant pathogens and applied mathematical modelling in particular will strengthen B3’s capacity, capability and expertise.

B3 Chair Dr James Buwalda said, “With the inclusion of Landcare Research’s skills and expertise, the B3 collaboration is now able to provide a more integrated and comprehensive approach to managing the risks of pest incursions to New Zealand’s productive and indigenous ecosystems. Their commitment to the B3 collaboration also reinforces the value of organisations working together to...

Thursday, 13 February, 2014 - 11:47

In October this year, the International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) was officially launched at the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress hosted by the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. The IPSN will develop a community of botanic gardens and arboreta around the world that will use ‘sentinel’ plants to provide early warning of new and emerging tree and plant pests and diseases.  The Network’s launch was part of a symposium organised by the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) Programme called “Sentinel Plants for Biosecurity Risk Assessment”.

Dr Nigel Bell, AgResearch scientist and Project Leader for the B3 project, ‘Biosecurity risk in natural ecosystems’, was the key organiser for the symposium, which aimed to raise awareness of the value of botanic gardens and plant collections internationally to assist in the identification of potential plant pests which could threaten indigenous plants in their area of origin. IPSN is founded on the notion that living plant collections at botanic gardens around the world are capable of serving as early warning systems to help predict and prevent the incursion of new pests (invertebrates and pathogens) that threaten native plants.

The six presentations in the symposium described examples of...

Tuesday, 22 October, 2013 - 09:31


Flock Hill Station, Craigieburn Valley,
Cass, Canterbury

As part of the B3: Better Border Biosecurity’s Risk Assessment Theme, Dr Kirstin McLean, a scientist at the Bio-Protection Research Centre, has recently completed research that will help regulatory agencies assess the potential impacts of new microbial biocontrol agents on native ecosystems. The reference to the publication from this research is shown below*.


Dr McLean began this research, because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; then known as the Environmental Risk Management Authority) needed more experimental data to develop an effective screening program for the introduction of new microbial biocontrol agents into New Zealand. Although they had some experience testing “classical” fungal biocontrol agents that were introduced to control invasive weeds, no applications had been approved for importing microbial biocontrol agents whose role was to protect plants from pathogens.

To fill this knowledge gap, Dr McLean’s research focused on a native isolate of Trichoderma atroviride already available commercially in New Zealand...

Friday, 30 August, 2013 - 15:10

A unique and comprehensive database called Eco Invertebase is helping New Zealand and overseas scientists to test the impact of various stressors such as biological control agents on native and valued introduced invertebrates. The database is housed on the B3 website (http://b3nz.org/) and was developed by scientists in Plant & Food Research in B3 and the Optimising Environmental Risk Assessment (OpERA) programmes.

The Eco Invertebase holds information on New Zealand invertebrate taxa, including data describing their biology, ecology, distribution and reproduction. The data entered into the database are limited to published data to ensure its integrity and accuracy. This information feeds into a model called PRONTI (Priority Ranking of Non-Target Invertebrates), which was developed by the OpERA group as a method of more consistently and objectively deciding which non-target invertebrate species should be tested in a laboratory as part of a risk assessment to determine the potential effects of genetically modified (GM) plants before they are released into the environment.

PRONTI works by ranking organisms in the Eco Invertebase by their degree of risk from the stressor, and hence their priority for testing. The higher the ranking given to an invertebrate, the greater its priority for testing. The model can specifically look at...

Friday, 9 August, 2013 - 07:45


Helicoverpa armigera (corn-ear worm)
Fig. 1. Helicoverpa armigera (corn-ear worm), an internationally
distributed major pest, is one of the model insects used for this

“Has it just arrived or not?” and “Where is it from?” are questions biosecurity officials often ask when an exotic insect invader is discovered in New Zealand. A B3 research project investigating natural abundance stable isotopes and trace elements as geolocality markers is helping the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to deal with this uncertainty for more timely, appropriate and cost-effective biosecurity operational decisions.

A key concern for MPI is to know when a new find of a high risk pest in New Zealand represents a fresh incursion, and therefore requires only a localised response. Alternatively, if it is found the pest already has an established population in New Zealand then a much more extensive response is required. To know which of these situations apply would greatly assist with determining when expensive eradication responses are necessary, and when they...

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